Ha. Now that is a differentiated viewpoint I can live with.
I have read several personal stories of women fleeing or planning to flee Japan because women are not expected to have and act on strong personal opinions.
True, to some degree. Women here normally don't grow a beard. Then again, I think it was a "western" philosopher who once wrote: "Feminism was invented as a means to integrate ugly women into Society". No, I give you that: free-spirited women, while they do exist, may have a harder time here than elsewhere. Then again, women here also don't feel the need to turn themselves into man-slaying sexbombs. I wonder whether those artificial-breasted ****-waxed semi-pornstars that populate the US media really are more "free" and more true to what they want to be as women than their Japanese counterparts; perceived freedom largely is a function of what you want to be, and what you can be.
Capsule hotels designed to serve salarymen who had to work so much overtime they couldn't get back home that night would never have been invented in the West.
Heyhey? I thought we Japanese are completely without imagination? How could we invent something without a western precedent?
Likewise, the hikikomori phenomenon started in Japan and is still virtually non-existant elsewhere in the world.
Nah, I wouldn't be too sure about that one. Socially disabled nerds and fanatics exist everywhere around the world. And I guess there's more of them in this forum than in a small Japanese town. The difference might just be that those guys elsewhere draw less attention - unless they turn violent. Columbine, anyone? It's the same with the alleged "uniquely and disproportionally" rampant bullying in Japanese highschools. A myth invented by the US media (if absolutely necessary, say "pretty please" and I'll search for the relevant sources), and in turn copied by the Japanese "Nihonjinron". And once such a myth has been established, it's virtually impossible to dispell it.
Finally, the school system puts such an emphasis on passing tests over actually learning anything useful it's almost comical. The average Japanese person speaks such poor English you'd think it's not a part of school curriculum but that could not be further from the truth.
Partially true. While I agree that passing tests is the main motive for many parents, the end result is not "dumb robots", as some westerners claim. While it's hard to come up with a fair test of what pupils have learned around the world as different things may be considered "important", results of the trans-national PISA study (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Sdent_Assessment)
seem to indicate that not everything is a complete waste of time in Japan. About English conversation skills of the average Japanese: Yes, they could be better. By far better. Then again, I wonder how many people in the US are fluent in a non-western language.(?)
We do have a lot to learn. A huge lot. But while we are able and willing to do so (derogative: "copycat nation"), it's people like Kachi in the west that make me wonder who has the more liberal and flexible minds. I cannot speak for the rest of the Japanese (no, we don't share one collective mind!), I think it's just that some people here believe that we do, in fact, have a lot of good and unique things in our society. And those, we are reluctant to sacrifice for unquestioned adoption of "western" ideals and customs. A culture is a sort of network of interwoven threads. You can't selectively adopt one thread of another cultural system without endangering the coherence of the whole yarnball.
It means everyone have to be the same and if you stick out too much, you'll be put in your place. You can't escape the expectations put onto you by society.
Again, concerning conformism, and the overarching concept of collectivism, proven evidence beyond the era of hearsay and "common knowledge" is pretty rare. There happen to be very, very few studies on this topic that were conducted with adults; so please take the following with a grain of salt, as it may only apply to the highly educated university student population. But those experiments on conformism (e.g. the "Ash" experiment , see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asch_conformity_experiments
) or a study by Triandis on conformity with significant others (parents, friends etc.) which were conducted in both Japan and the US yielded some pretty astonishing results. In both studies (again, if you are really, really interested and want to force me to waste my time, I can provide some sources), US students actually showed more conformity than their Japanese counterparts. Though I have to admit this tells us little about the general adult population, it may suffice to indicate that things are not as clear-cut as "common knowledge" wants us to believe.
This. Just to derail the thread a little more. Edited, Dec 23rd 2010 8:36am by Rinsui Edited, Dec 23rd 2010 8:42am by Rinsui